How did the classic tale of Alexander the Great influence the principal problem facing knot theorists today? What effect did the exalted Kalman filter have on space travel? How did the Shannon Coding Theory make mapping human DNA possible? In this brilliantly conceived follow-up to the highly acclaimed Five Golden Rules, popular science author John Casti treats us to another exhilarating quintet of theoretical gems to answer these and other intriguing questions.
Hailed as one of the great science writers of our time, Casti reveals the remarkable origins of some of the most monumental mathematical discoveries of the last century-and sheds light on how these revolutionary ideas have reshaped our lives. Like its critically acclaimed predecessor, Five More Golden Rules takes us on a fascinating journey to the frontiers of modern mathematics, infusing a sometimes intimidating subject with an infectious energy that brings it to thrilling life. Casti draws on such diverse sources as Paul Reveres plot to warn his fellow patriots of the advancing enemy; the celebrated British play Art; the Greek legend of Gordius and Alexander the Great; the work of nineteenth-century poet William Blake; and a make-believe treasure hunt through New York City's Central Park to illustrate the power and beauty of the five astonishing theories he illuminates.
From explaining how knot theory is contributing to the development of new drugs to revealing how astronomers can predict planetary motions with the Hopf Bifurcation Theorem and highlighting the importance of control theory to space travel, Casti offers an invigorating glimpse into the exciting world of twentieth-century mathematics and how these findings have helped unravel the secrets of the universe.
This extraordinary account also introduces us to the legendary figures who made these mathematical contributions possible, including:
• James W. Alexander, one of the original Princeton Institute for Advanced Study faculty members who introduced the idea of associating a polynomial with a knot
• Claude Shannon, a communications engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories who pioneered what we now call information theory
• Stefan Banach, one of the most prominent mathematicians of his time, whose Scottis Problem Book set the stage for functional analysis
With a heady blend of real-life examples, historical anecdotes, and straightforward explanations that will captivate novices and experts alike, Casti probes the mystery and seductiveness of the engrossing tales that lie behind the breakthroughs. Laden with fascinating stories and information, Five More Golden Rules is a spellbinding chronicle that will dramatically transform the way you think.